An alcoholic parent or spouse can wreak havoc on a family. They can behave erratically at times and create a lot of fear and hostility in the home. The pressure the children and spouse live under is never-ending as they wonder what mommy or daddy are going to be like at any moment. Sometimes the alcoholic can be friendly and jovial, and moments later they can turn angry and abusive.
The daily struggles can make you start to feel you deserve to be treated badly and that there is nothing you can do about it. But you don’t deserve it, and you do have choices:
1. Find a support group. You are not alone in dealing with this situation. A group like Al-Anon helps loved ones talk about their feelings and experiences with other people going through the same thing. Ala-teen is a part of Al-Anon but for teen participants. Many people find hope and strength to carry on and perhaps start a new life away from the abuser.
2. Talk to a teacher, counselor, or another trusted person. It’s common for many family members to try to hide a family drinking problem from most everyone around them. A child or spouse can feel like they are betraying their loved one’s trust by telling someone what is going on. They will neglect their own feelings and emotions to protect their mom and dad, or husband and wife. In the meantime, they start to drown in these emotions, but what they are giving up is rarely ever acknowledged by the alcoholic.
3. If the abuser gets physically violent while under the influence, or tries to drive, do them and yourself a favor and call 911. Drawing a line at what you will tolerate will protect the involved family members, and possibly the offender. If worse comes to worst, and the abuser gets arrested for DWI, help them find legal representation by searching the internet at sites like www.dwi-houston.com.
4. Learn to let go. Almost everyone wants their parent or spouse to be someone they can communicate with, be proud of, and even love, but this doesn’t always happen. At some point for your mental and emotional health, you may have to develop new connections and relationships by becoming involved in activities away from home.
5. Take time to learn about alcoholism. This is a disease that renders many people powerless to do anything about it. The alcoholic can be stuck in a cycle of abuse and regret and not know how to stop. Regardless of health issues, and family concern, they may not want to stop. This is not the fault of the children or the spouse. The more you know about the disease, the more you understand that you have not caused the angry words and poor actions from the abuser.
6. Be aware of how you feel. You have a right to be angry and disappointed. You are allowed to be mad. Find healthy ways to express this anger so it does not consume you and make your life worse.
7. Always remember you are not in control of the alcoholic’s actions. You can only take responsibility for how you choose to react. Choose to react in a way that protects you best.
An alcoholic can be shut off from their own emotions and not clearly understand the pain they are creating for their family. However, your number one responsibility is to yourself. Stepping back and following a different path in life may be hurtful, but your life may depend on it.
Teresa Stewart was surprised to learn that alcoholism was considered a disease by medical professionals, so writes to provide coping mechanisms for those who struggle daily in life with an alcoholic family member. Dane Johnson of Johnson, Johnson & Baer at www.dwi-houston.com helps families with DWI defense. Greater than 90% of his practice is defending DWI, and he works aggressively to keep Texas convictions off clients’ records.